The health and fitness world seems to be obsessed with the ‘keto’ diet right now. Is it just another fad diet, or does the science actually add up?
What is a ketogenic diet?
Any diet which intentionally places and keeps the body in an altered metabolic state called ketosis, is a ketogenic diet. The typical Western diet uses carbohydrates as its main source of energy. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is absorbed into cells (because of the action of insulin), to be used as an energy source or stored for later use.
When carbohydrate intake is low, the body is forced to adapt to another energy source. At this point, the liver steps in and begins to break down fat into ketones, which replace glucose as the primary source of energy in the body. This altered metabolic state is called ketosis.
Most ketogenic diets involve strictly limiting glycaemic carbohydrate intake to less than 20 grams per day. That’s not a lot of energy. Instead, the vast majority of the keto dieter’s energy needs (around 75 percent) come from fat. Around 25 percent of daily caloric requirements come from protein, and the rest (no more than 5 percent) are met through carbs.
What are the potential benefits?
When the body is in ketosis, it becomes remarkably efficient at burning fat. For this reason, following a ketogenic diet is believed to translate into more effective weight loss. One study  found significantly greater decreases in weight in participants following a low-carbohydrate diet than those following a low-fat diet. Another reason for this may be that appetite is effectively reduced in ketogenic diets, and ketogenic foods have a greater ability to induce satiety (the feeling of fullness) than foods containing higher proportions of carbohydrates.
Interestingly, however, the keto diet wasn’t developed as a weight loss strategy at all, but rather as a way to manage epilepsy. The diet was observed to reduce the frequency of seizures by over 50% in half of the epileptic patients who tried it, and by over 90% in one third of the patients. The reason for this is that ketosis forces the brain to adapt to metabolic changes by increasing the number of mitochondria in neurons – the parts of the cell responsible for the production of cellular energy. This helps neurons to remain stable, even during a seizure, when massive amounts of energy are demanded by the brain.
In theory, an increase in neural mitochondria could be beneficial to non-epileptics as well. The ketogenic diet has been studied for potential application in treating Alzheimer’s, ADHD, headache, Parkinson’s, and sleep disorders. Furthermore, anecdotal evidence from people who have tried ketogenic diets suggests that it results in clearer thinking (a decrease in the dreaded ‘brain fog’), increased focus and attention, and more stable mood.
Initiating and maintaining ketosis
The quickest and easiest way to transition your body into a state of ketosis is simply not to eat: in a starvation state, ketosis takes over to make sure the body’s cells are still able to function normally, even though it is not receiving any fuel from outside of the body.
Luckily, though, starvation is not the only way to initiate ketosis. Phasing out carbs over a day or two, and replacing them with fats, is also effective. Within 24 to 48 hours of your last intake of carbs, your body should be in ketosis. This can be a long time to wait, especially if you’ve been in ketosis, and slipped out because of an irresistible pizza.
Supplementing with exogenous ketones (such as beta-hydroxybutyrate, found in Neuroactive’s VITA KETO), is the fastest and most effective way to rapidly induce ketosis. Exogenous ketones are rapidly available sources of energy, as they do not have to be metabolically processed to become available to cells as an energy source.
As mentioned above, most keto dieters will strictly adhere to consuming less than 20g of carbs per day, to ensure they do not slip out of ketosis. Normal dietary fat comprises mostly of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which are metabolised into ketones. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are also metabolised into ketones, but generate more ketones per unit of energy used during metabolism. MCTs are therefore far more ketogenic than LCTs, and the body will preferentially break down MCTs over other energy sources. Supplementation with MCTs, therefore, allows for greater consumption of carbs and protein, without the risk of falling out of ketosis
Our C60 MCT Oil combines the ketogenic effects of MCT oil with the anti-aging effects of the C60 molecule, a spherical organic compound which enhances the functioning of mitochondria, the cellular structures responsible for energy production.
 Bazzano, L.A., Hu, T., Reynolds, K., Yao, L., Bunol, C., Liu, Y., …He, J. (2014). Effects of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets: A randomized trial. Ann Intern Med, 161(5), 309-318. Retrieved from http://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/1900694/effects-low-carbohydrate-low-fat-diets-randomized-trial
 Choi, H.R., Kim, J., Lim, H., & Park, Y.K. (2018). Two-week exclusive supplementation of modified ketogenic nutrition drink reserves lean body mass and improves blood lipid profile in obese adults: A randomized clinical trial. Nutrients, 10(12), 1895. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/12/1895
 Bough, K.J., Wetherington, J., Hassel, B., Pare, J.F, Gawryluk, J.W., Greene, J.G.,…Dingledine, R.J. (2006). Mitochondrial biogenesis in the anticonvulsant mechanism of the ketogenic diet. Ann Neurol, 60(2), 223-235. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16807920
About the Author:
Raphael is a nootropics enthusiast, postgraduate researcher and published author in the field of social psychology. He is also a certified counsellor and has experience in working with depression, anxiety and PTSD disorders. Raphael is currently studying towards a Masters degree in clinical psychology.